by Scott Funk (@scottfunk0)
Salt Lake City – Two teams came into Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday night with 5-6 records and the hope of tonight not being their last game of the year. With a bowl game on the line, Zack Moss put his team on his back and led the Utes (6-6,3-6) to a 34-13 victory over Colorado (5-7,2-7) giving the Utah seniors one more game.
Zack Moss became Utah’s 14th 1,000-yard rusher as he put on a show for Ute fans by not just out-running his opponents, but by also running them over.
There were several plays on the night where Moss seemed to be stopped, but would lower his shoulder and plow right through the defender for more yards, or would seem to go down and regain his balance to pick up additional yards. Play after play he brought cheers from fans as he would finish the night with two touchdowns for 196 yards on 26 carries, putting him at 1,023 on the season.
Zack Moss wasn’t the only star of the night. Replacing the injured Tyler Huntley, Troy Williams made his third start of the year in his last game at Rice-Eccles. After dropping his only other two starts of the year, Williams came out and threw for 181 yards (15-24) and also had two rushing touchdowns.
The Utes got into a groove early. On their second drive, Moss found his stride. On a drive that went for six plays, Moss carried the ball three times for 39 yards, and a reception for 25 yards before punching it in on a 15-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 with 6:25 in the first.
After a missed field goal by Colorado, Utah got the ball back and continued to put the ball on the ground. This time Moss touched the ball three times on a 4 play drive, rushing for 27 yards and getting his second touchdown of the night on a two-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 with 1:01 to play in the first.
In the second quarter, although Moss was still running wild, Troy Williams stepped onto the stage. On the Utes first drive in the second quarter, Troy Williams led his offense down the field on a 88-yard drive on 10 plays before running it into the end zone himself on a 8-yard score to make it 21-0 with 10:29 to play in the first half.
After forcing Colorado to punt twice, and a punt of their own, Utah got the ball back with 1:43 to play in the half — plenty of time for the senior captain. Williams led the Utes down the field in seven plays, going 74 yards in 1:20, finishing it with a nine-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0 with :23 to play in the half.
At the end of the first half, Williams was 10-14 for 138 yards and two rushing touchdowns, and Moss had 140 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.
Colorado finally got on the board in the second half on a six-play, 73-yard drive ending on a Philip Lindsay six-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 with 9:34 in the third.
Matt Gay was 2-2 tonight, getting his first field goal, from 37 yards out, in the third quarter on the Utes ensuing possession to make it 31-7 with 4:38 left in the third.
Colorado found the end zone again in the start of the fourth on a Steven Montez three-yard rushing touchdown, capping off a 13-play, 78-yard drive for the Buffs. The two-point conversion failed however, making the score 31-13 with 14:19 to play.
After forcing Utah to punt, Colorado was putting together a drive that they hoped would end in a touchdown to put them within striking distance of the Utes. But the drive would end on a Bradlee Anae strip-sack recovered by Utah’s Cody Barton to all but seal the game for the Utes with 11:13 to play.
On the ensuing possession, Matt Gay hit his second field goal of the night — this time from 48-yards — to make it 34-13 with 5:52 to play.
The Utes stopped the Buffs on fourth-down thanks to a sack from Cody Barton. After running a couple of plays, Williams would take a knee twice to end the game and seal a 6-6 season for the Utes, and a bowl game birth.
Zack Moss wasn’t the only running back to have a career night in that unit; Devontae Henry-Cole finished the night with 79 yards, a career-high, on just nine carries.
Darren Carrington led the receiving unit for the Utes with 64 yards on six catches.
Utah held Colorado to 319 total yards, with 195 through the air and 124 on the ground.
The Utes finished with 491 total yards, with 181 through the air and 310 on the ground.
Now Utah will wait. Conference championships will be played next weekend, and then the bowl games will be announced. Tune into ESPN700 to hear Bill Riley from 11-2 and Gunther&Hackett from 2-6 to hear possible bowl projections of where the Utes may land.